Looking for a better solution

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday took action we think will ultimately prove wise in regard to competing plans to build a local cancer center.

The assembly introduced Ordinance 2011-19-72, which would green light $4.7 million for Central Peninsula Hospital to start construction on its proposed on-campus cancer center.

There was talk from all parties involved that the assembly would pull the ordinance before its introduction due to a competing proposal from Dr. John Halligan, an Anchorage-based radiation oncologist who wants to provide similar services off-campus.

The assembly's actions weren't what were expected by most, but it seems they have done something smart -- by introducing the ordinance instead of trashing it they have postponed the decision for another month.

They did what CPH Chief Executive Officer Rick Davis likened to not shutting the door just yet -- giving everyone a month to come back with cooler heads and think this decision through.

To make decisions with logic, not emotions, and consider the breadth and seriousness of the issue.

We'd like to take this opportunity to advocate for a compromise, of sorts.

Simply put, we see no reason CPH and Halligan can't work together.

We want Halligan's services in the area and we would also like to see the work of our hospital's planning efforts come to fruition. An on-campus solution would appear to be the best long-term solution.
While Halligan has every right to open his center whenever and wherever he chooses, we ask that he align with CPH for the future of cancer care on the Peninsula.

Three things are certain -- our community has put a lot of tax money into our hospital, our population will continue to grow and age, and cancer care will remain one of the most important things we can offer.

One isn't certain. Halligan is a visiting oncologist who can cut ties with the area any time he so chooses, leaving our community in the same predicament it has always been in: without local cancer care.

Building a multi-million dollar center does come with a level of commitment for Halligan, but what about 40 to 50 years from now? This decision is larger than the egos of those involved, larger than the community as it currently stands and larger than a spat about who said what and when.

We are very grateful to see more cancer treatment services in our area. However, we'd like to encourage all sides to come back to the table, work through previous disagreements and find a way to combine Halligan's goals with the long-term, on-campus plans of our hospital. We know it is possible and we think it's the best choice for the long term.

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